2012-11-07 61 26

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Wed 7 Nov 2012 in 61,26:
61.4693804, 26.4876750

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In a snowy forest behind the house Pollila in Pertunmaa municipality.




I was travelling from Helsinki to Kuopio in Wednesday. I usually make this trip by train, but now I was by car, so I checked the graticules in between for hashpoints. And interestingly, about halfway there was one hashpoint that was only 5 km detour from the main road I was driving along. I would definitely try to visit that, it was a good spot to also take a little break from driving. I surveyed the place to be in a forest (how else), with the closest house about 200 meters from hashpoint, and the closest public road 400 meters from it.


Somewhere in the middle of the forest
At 14 o'clock I started from Helsinki with my car. For the first 100 kilometers, weather was good, but then it started raining. As I drove northwards, rain gradually turned into sleet and then, only a few kilometers before hash-site, into very thick snowfall, although the air temperature was still on the plus side. There was also an increasing amount of snow in the roadside, and I started to feel a little uneasy about trekking a few hundred meters in forest covered with 15 cm of wet snow, as I only had regular sneakers with me. On the top of that, the daylight started to fade.

I located the turn from the main road into a smaller one, and after a couple of kilometers, to an even smaller, gravel road, which was not ploughed at all. As I had my studded snow tires on, this presented no problem. Also few vehicles had driven along the road before me, so I drove along. The road was difficult to follow, as it had many intersections leaving to nearby houses. These "driveways" to houses were as wide as the "main" road, sporting the same single tiretracks and the houses could not be seen from the intersections, the area being thick forest. Once I took a wrong turn and ended in a yard of a house, where I had to make a U-turn. No one seemed to care, though, probably that intersection is taken by mistake often.

Car at park in the yard of the house closest to hashpoint

As the road wound deeper into the forest, it became even narrower and less traversed. This was exactly the kind of road where my wife always says she is scared, unfortunately she was not with me now, so I continued (as I know she really is the voice of sanity in our expeditions). I turned on the GPS and saw that I was approaching the point in road where the hashpoint is closest to it. GPS read 370 meters to hash, and I was faced with two options: to wade in the wet snow for about 400 extra meters or to go to the yard of the house nearer the hashpoint and try to explain to the residents why I would want to go the dark forest in a snow storm to take a picture of me there. I chose the latter option, and drove straight into the yard of the house. As I was making the turn to the driveway, I saw a car coming the other way on the main road. He turned out to be the owner of the house, as he drove behind me to the yard. I asked him if I could leave my car there for a while I went to the forest to take a picture of me. As he seemed a little bit reserved, I pondered what cover story would be the best and went on explaining about this "Internet game" I was playing. As I continued my explanation, he seemed to start to understand, and he had actually heard of geocaching. He seemed even interested in how these random coordinates are calculated, although I doubt that he believed when I said that the opening index of the New York Stock Exchange was a factor in there. Probably that seemed too far-fetched to pinpoint someone to his back yard.

The moat guarding the hashpoint

However, I obtained permission to leave my car there, and after taking camera and GPS with me and putting on coat and wool hat, I started towards the hashpoint. (I don't count this as an ambassador achievement, as the actual hashpoint is traversable by everyman's right.) I tried to be quick, as I still wasn't entirely sure if the owner of the house believed me, and didn't want to alarm him more. Also other reasons for being quick were the falling darkness, the GPS-device showing only one-third battery left and myself having only the above-mentioned sneakers which would get wet within the 10 first steps. So I actually jogged towards the hashpoint, or at least stumbled along as quick as I could, as the ground was very uneven. Nearer the hashpoint the forest got thicker and the moving slower, but I started to get near. 10 meters, 8 meters, 6 meters, 5 meters, whoa! As I struggled past some trees, I nearly fell into the last obstable, a sizeable ditch with very cold-looking water running in it, and the hashpoint was definitely on the other side of it. Carefully going down the other bank and then jumping over water, I was finally at the hashpoint.

The stupid grin (of agony)

I apologize for the quality of the pictures, as I was having hard-time getting my camera to focus and measure the exposure correctly in the falling darkness and heavy snowfall, as my hands were also starting to freeze. I managed to take the few necessary pictures and before leaving the point hung the Internet-was-here -poster into a tree, but forgot to take a picture of it. I later thought that it would have been better to give the poster to the owner of the house, as it was unlikely that anyone else will visit that forsaken patch of entangled thicket ever again.

Snowfall was heavy.
The only spot of light in the dark forest.

I backtracked my own trail, altough it was already so dark it was hard to follow, and found my way to the house and my car. The temperature gauge of the car showed +0,5 degrees Celsius, thus no Frozen hash this time, but my feet were very wet, and I was glad of the gasoline-generated warmth of the car cabin. I still had to navigate a few kilometers of unploughed roads to the bigger road, but finally I was there, back at the civilization! Although I had still 250 km to go in a horrible weather, I felt like a winner! This expedition felt somehow extreme, athough part of that was because of bad preparation, with proper gear and daylight it would not have been a big deal.


Tilley earned the Virgin Graticule Achievement
by being the first to reach any hashpoint in the (61, 26) graticule, here, on 2012-11-07.
2012-11-07 61 26 DSC1003 2000px.jpg
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Minesweeper geohash empty.png Minesweeper geohash 1.png Minesweeper geohash empty.png
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Tilley achieved level 1 of the Minesweeper Geohash achievement
by visiting coordinates in Kuopio, Finland and 1 of the surrounding graticules.